Saturday 15 November 2014

Chapter Two

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.” – William Faulkner, Light in August

“In the jungle, the mighty jungle, Eva sleeps tonight” sing my peers as I walk past. I haven’t managed to work out why the implication that I am a wild beast has become their weapon of choice and I bear the burden very ill. I am fourteen, highly strung and unpopular.

My mantra that “if I worry about it, it will never happen” isn’t working so well for me these days, though that doesn’t stop me applying it. Every night I worry about the slaps, the names and the singing. I worry about the phlegm which christens the back of my neck, the taunts and the gestures. It continues to happen and I become obsessed with it, and (it gives me no pleasure to confess) obsessed with myself.


1.       a persistent unwanted idea or impulse that cannot be eliminated by reasoning.

2.       a recurring, distressing idea, thought or impulse that feels "foreign" or alien to the individual.

3.       compulsive preoccupation with an idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
I hate my voice, I’ve heard it on tape. It’s annoying, posh and every shrill syllable conveys my deepest insecurities. My face is like a potato – round and lumpy and plain. My hair is even flatter than my chest and I’m stupid. Everything about me, from my body to my thoughts to my failure to grasp long division is irrefutable evidence of my schoolfellows’ case against me: I am a freak. I’m a weirdo, a loony and a retard.

Every disturbing or horrid phenomenon I come across must, surely, apply to me. Racist? Undoubtedly – I am sure I had a bad thought about a non-white person once. Dyke? Paedophile? I’m not even sure what either of these things is and I’m afraid to find out because I know they’re bad words and so I am probably one or the other or both. Hermaphrodite? Sounds about right – I probably do have some male genitalia I don’t know about. I stare sometimes at my body, comparing it to the drawing of a generic adolescent girl in my ‘Growing Up’ book. Her breasts are definitely bigger than mine and her hips are much wider. It’s so she can have children, the book explains. I will never have children. Even if I don’t have a penis in place of a womb I am almost certainly infertile, ever since I stood too close to that microwave. Every time it’s on I go into another room but it’s no good; I can still feel it cooking my ovaries. It tingles. My periods haven’t started because my eggs have all been scrambled by proximity to microwaves (that’s if I don’t have sperm instead).

I miss being thirteen. When I was thirteen all I had to worry about was being the Virgin Mary. Just as I had once prayed to God to spare me from orphancy, now I prayed to be spared the humiliation of an immaculate pregnancy. As a meek virgin with a working knowledge of scripture, I feared I was a frighteningly good candidate to carry the second coming of Christ. But I was already struggling at school – both academically and socially – and I didn’t think I could cope with a child. One bizarre conversation to which my long-suffering mother was subjected involved me asking her if she’d believe me if I told her God had got me pregnant. To her maternal (or perhaps Christian) credit, she assured me that she would.

Luckily, I no longer have to worry about being the Virgin Mary. Because in between the school toilets, the boy who spent last biology lesson attempting to insert biros up my backside through the hole in the bench, the ones outside the sixth form college who grab and grope me when I walk past and the thoughts in my head, I am pretty certain I no longer qualify as ‘pure’ enough to gestate Jesus. So in a sense, every cloud really does have a silver lining.


  1. Such lovely words. Your writing is amazing. I'm sure you'll be a great help to someone reading this. Keep up the good work. Brigid x

  2. Thank you - that's my hope xxx

  3. Articulate, engaging, raw and honest.......a perfect combination. Keep it up!